“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:3)
Blessed or happy?
People attribute the source of happiness to different things. The Romans, for example, thought it could be found in authority, wealth, glory, and grandiosity. They were sure that it couldn’t be found in being poor in spirit. The Jews also miscalculated and sought after their freedom of slavery from the Romans, believing that it was the road to happiness. They too couldn’t believe that happiness is being poor in spirit.
Let us see how others perceived blessings. Blessedness, from Abraham’s point of view, meant, a child, land, cattle... etc. The Old Testament promised materialistic blessings. In the book of Exodus, the Lord said, “I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exud3:8). The same in the book of Deuteronomy, “The Lord will command the blessing on you in your storehouses and in all to which you set your hand and He will bless you in the land which the Lord your God is giving to you” (Deut28:8).
Christ our Lord tells us come to Me and I will open to you the doors of joy, happiness and blessing. As we know, the Gospel is the joyful message, the Good tidings, as the Angel told the Shepherds saying, “Do not be afraid, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people” (Lk2:10).
Our Lord Jesus sat down on the mountain side to explain the spiritual importance of poorness in spirit. For those who seek it, blessings and happiness shall be their reward.
Be poor in spirit to avoid Satan’s and Adam’s fall :
Satan fell when he wanted to be like God… when he said, “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High” (Is 14:13,14). It was the same cause of the fall of Adam and Eve; since they accepted Satan’s grandiose idea, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen 3:4,5).
The people who are poor in spirit value the virtue of humility. No wonder that the first beatitude goes to the humble. Our Lord Jesus humbled Himself to fulfill our salvation giving Himself as the greatest example to follow. St. Paul says to us, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Phil 2:7,8).
The Lord always looks over those who are poor in spirit, as He says, “But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit” (Is 66:2). Therefore, St. James says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). According to the inspired Davidic Psalm, “He raises the poor out of the dust, and lifts the needy out of the ash heap, that He may seat him with princes- with the princes of His people” (Ps 113:7,8). These words remind us with those of St. Mary in her praise, “He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed… He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly” (Lk 2:48-52).